Interview with Master Ruadhan Mac Aoidh

Ruadhan Mac Aoidh

Barony of Tir Ysgithr

What is the significance of your SCA name?

The Mac Aoidh Clan (modernly MacKay) is a clan that my family was associated with based on my mundane last name, Wolford. This mainly stemmed from when I researched my last name now many years ago. I had found that my family was associated with the clan “MacKay of Scotland.” However, my Grandfather may have changed his name from McGuire, so it may all be moot. I am sticking with what I have found, though, because the MacKay Clan has the better color scheme on their tartans.

You are already a peer of the Kingdom. How did that feel?

I became a member of the Order of the Pelican in 2018. I had mixed feelings when I was offered. I was at a point where I had almost given up on it, and then it happened. The point where I had almost given up, I was sitting with my then Peer, at a Crown tournament. When the tournament was over, he looked over at me and said that he didn’t understand why I was not a Pelican, but he wasn’t in that circle. I was at the point where if my Peer saw me as one, then I didn’t need any more validation. I will continue to keep doing what I am doing. Then, a few months later, I was offered my Pelican.

When I was offered, I thought I was getting something different. There has been a long running joke with the current Baron of Tir Ysgthir that we are roughly twins. We have roughly similar awards and even names (though we both seem to pronounce it wrong). When he received his Light of Atenvledt, the Crown and Herald made a big deal about how similar we are. Then he was called into court, and presented with the Light of Atenveldt. I was called into court right after, and based on what just happened with HE of BTY Ruadhan I thought I was going to receive a Light as well. The more the King, which was Sir Merrick, spoke, the more I realized that I wasn’t getting a Light. He kept going back and forth about my service and then my art, and I felt like I was being offered, but I couldn’t tell which one it was for. He went back and forth on my service and arts for a bit. I thought I was better suited to Pelican as I have held many Baronial offices. I was on many courts for many Crowns and Coronets. I have helped out with a lot of events. The list is long.

Though I started to have a feeling, the moment he called the order, I still wasn’t sure it was really happening. I felt like I faced a lot of opposition based on what I had heard from others. Then, I felt validated. I worked hard. I did so many things, so I don’t know that it was one thing I was recognized most for as a Peer. I wanted to be a Peer, and even though I wasn’t a protégé in my eyes, the Peers are all equal. The only thing I was a little sad about was that the squires belt I had wouldn’t be able to be passed on in the same way as it had been passed to me. It is a lineage belt, so, being that I was not a knight, I would not be able to pass it on to my future squire.

What was the first art/science that you discovered?

I would say it was scrollwork, or the scribal arts. Drawing is something I have always done. I did a lot of trial and error while I was learning. I started out doing scribal due to an injury that I received while fighting in a tournament at Barmaids around 2005. In the fight one fighter had been knocked over falling on my arm and hyperextended my elbow. I was out of fighting for a minimum of 8 weeks. Fighting was really all I knew, and I started thinking to myself now what. Luckily for me Scribal came up during this time, so I thought I would see how drawing would translate into painting.

I started out with painting scrolls that were pre-drawn, or traced. Once I started to better understand how scribal works, I started to make my own. Funny story: Morgan and Elizabeth were Baron & Baroness of Twin Moons at the time. I was at their house, because Elizabeth was hosting a scribal session there. I had a piece of paper in front of me, and, without realizing it, I said out loud that I did not know what to draw. Someone had piped up and said “Oh, you’re surrounded by all these beautiful ladies and you have no inspiration?” So, I ran with that. I drew and painted a ministerial off the top of my head at that scribal. When I was done, I pushed it to the center of the large wooden table we were sitting at, and in a playful tone, Elizabeth said “I hate you.” I took that as a huge compliment, as it was not mean, but playful.

I did my first peerage scroll under Lady Rebecca, a former Head Scribe for the Barony of Twin Moons. I had gone to the home of Their Graces Craven and Elzbieta when they were having a spear making day. It was there I learned that HG Craven had been made a Pelican, but had yet to receive his scroll. I informed Elzbieta that I would change that, and contacted Lady Rebecca for supplies and such. Lady Rebecca felt It was her job as Baronial Scribe to be a cheerleader. She also had a huge love of using gold in her scrollwork. The gold borders that I do came from me poking fun at her because she loved gold, and it drove me nuts. I started ink work when I received my Blood of Fenris. It was done by Lady Celestria, and it was the inkwork of a soldier with a shield that had a gold border on it. I did not know that we could produce scrolls that were not fully illuminated, I was like, “Huh, you can do fine line artwork.” That is what started me down the rabbit hole. For how much I poked at Rebecca for her gold uses, I use it a lot now for borders on the scrolls I make, which are mostly just fine line artwork.

I also have a tendency to put hourglasses into some of the scrolls I make. When I first started doing fine line work, I started by replicating mostly German Woodcuts. Eventually I stumbled upon Hans Holbein and his ‘Danse Macabre’ or ‘The Dance of Death’ series. I noticed that in all of them there was an hourglass somewhere in them. I guess you could say it’s my signature as it is a part of my heraldry. I understand it’s become a game to try and find them. Some are easy, some are hidden, sometimes I forget, but they are usually there.

Mistakes happen to everyone. What is something you turned around from a mistake that took place in your art?

Something that came from a mistake was actually one of my most proud banner moments. I was making a baronial banner for Twin Moons, and some of the blue paint dripped onto the moons. There was no way to wash the blue out of the white, and we were so close to being finished with the banner. So, I took black and went over the blue and made craters on the moon. It was pretty awesome to be able to save all the hard work Baroness Deletha and myself had put into the banner.

Another situation happened during a coronation weekend. There was a scroll I was working on to replace a missing scroll. I was very close to completing it for court, and my gold pen exploded on the scroll while I was working on the border. Court was in 30 minutes, and I did not have time to make a new one. I was not sure how to fix it. I did the best I could with cleaning it up, but there were some areas where the border was just too far gone. Lady Celestria came by while I was working on it, and noticed I was distressed. She had asked to look at the scroll I was working on. She gave me the idea of making the blob into the award itself, as it looked like a semi-round blob anyways. It saved the whole scroll and was done in time for court.

What other forms of scroll work have you explored, aside from the traditional methods we all know and love?

I have worked on metal etching scrolls. His Grace, Sir Arthur, was the inspiration for this. He had made an etched scroll for a Twin Moons Defenders tournament. I thought it was really cool and a way to expand on my arts. I had done some etching before, but it was smaller stuff. The biggest challenge I faced was spacing. Most of the scrolls I have done have been in runes. Runes take up a lot more space than you would think they do.

The first one I made was an AOA for Lady Runa Gigja. Morgan and Elizabeth were King and Queen at the time (2017). I had this idea of making it, had no idea how it was going to work out, but I wanted an AOA to try this on. I asked Her Majesty, Elizabeth, if there was an AOA I could do this for, and she asked me how long I would need. I explained that it should be done in a couple weeks, so that I would have time to make another if it didn’t turn out the first time. Usually, etching can take three days to complete. She gave me a name and a date, she sent over her and his Majesty’s signatures (since they can’t actually sign a metal scroll). I did the scroll, and they seemed happy with it.

Leatherwork has been a thought on scrolls, but I feel like I need more practice with it. I have mostly made accessories out of leather, but my first tooled leather piece was a vigil book for his Excellency, Sir Franbald of Loncastre, when he was being elevated to Knighthood. I wanted to do something special as he was my squire brother. I learned many of the techniques from Rose the Jeweler (at the time) of basic leather tooling. Frandbald has a device that is very geometrically shaped, so it made it a little easier for my first time.

Are there other arts/sciences you want to try, or have tried?

Crown tournaments are a big motivator for me to try different arts. Based on this tradition, within 2 weeks of crown tournament, I would try an art I have never done before, and make a gift for my Knight’s consort and my own consort. It became a tradition for me because I have done it since the first time I fought in a Crown tournament (2010). The very first tournament I entered, I created some parasols. I wanted to make something for my consort Lady Zahira, and for Mistress Iona Putnika, my Knight’s consort. The weekend before the Crown tournament, Mistress Tatiana Verlioni gave a parasol making class. I have only sewed once in my life, and I had never really done woodworking before, so I said to myself, “I’m going to make three.” The third one was for someone I was dating at the time.

I have only seen it done once, but I have always wanted to try lampwork bead making. Her Excellency Irisko Aranyas was working on some lampwork at an event, though I can’t remember what event. It is an intriguing art form, melting glass into beads. I have not seen it since then, but I have always wanted to try it out.

Can you talk a little bit about your Kingdom/Baronial competition experience?

I think my first Arts and Science Competition was for the Barony of Twin Moons Defenders Tournament, though I don’t remember the year. I wanted to put myself against the others and see where I stacked up. With help from Her Excellency Tetinka, and His Grace Arthur I had made a cast stamp for the Barony. I had also made a scroll that, at the time I started, I didn’t realize that it was a depiction of lost wax.

At one point in time, I was a Deputy Arts and Science Minister for the Barony of Twin Moons. Their Excellencies Bran, Deletha and I had come up with doing an arts Arts and Sciences tournament at Twin Moons practice. While I was deputy, I ran these every 3 months at fighter practice, and at Estrella. I was able to win the last one I entered, and I think one of the last ones the Barony had. I tried to make the competition as easy as I could, but still with a tiny amount of documentation. I made a 4-question documentation questionnaire for people to fill out. It was basically what is it, how did you make it, how or if this would have been used in period, and anything else you would like to tell us about your piece. The questionnaire came from two things. I wanted people to start being comfortable with documentation. The real reason came from TRM Morgan and Elizabeth’s son Troy entering hand spun twine. There were a few people that came to vote very perplexed by seeing what must have been to them just string. I wanted to make sure that would not happen again to something people might not have understood.

Other than that, I have displayed my work in artisan showcases at events. Most of the shields I have painted have been there. I have also entered a few of the competitions at Barony of Atenveldt fighter practice.

Have you taught arts/sciences to others?

The most teaching I have done is with scribal. The last time I taught anything formal was when I worked with the College of St. Felix. Baroness Sigrid asked me to come help teach some calligraphy to them. I did not know it was formal teaching until I had gotten there, but I was happy to help them learn.

I did teach a banner class with Lady Zahira, for Twin Moons. I had only made one banner in my life before, so teaching the class was fun. That is why I asked Lady Zahira to help me with it, in case I forgot something. The banners were silk dyeing banners, and it was to help beautify the Barony. It would also give people their own personal banners.

What is something that you would tell yourself back when you started?

Strangely, the one thing that has actually worked for me is making snap decisions, and I stick with those decisions. When I asked to be a squire, it was driving to a Coronation for Sir Tristen and Damiana, the summer of the snow storm (year? 2013?). It was the same thing when I decided I wanted to fight in the Crown tournament. I was at one of his Grace, Sir Arthur’s practices, and I felt like this was something I wanted to do. His Grace helped me prepare for it. At the time, you had to have held an office for 6 months, so I decided to take on a Baronial position in Twin Moons as Minister of Lists.

Something I would tell people is to try things out. Do not commit yourself to one thing, but, when you find the one thing you love, run with it. I have dabbled in a lot of different arts because of my snap decisions, or just wanting to try something out.

Written By: Artisans Now!

This is Artisans Now! We interview populace all around in the Kingdom of Atenveldt for their talents and knowledge! Lots of fun, lots of Arts/Science, lots of populace!

June 26, 2021

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